Winter scene with cattle and figures thumbnail 1
Winter scene with cattle and figures thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Winter scene with cattle and figures

Oil Painting
1865 (painted)
Place of origin

Oil painting

Object details

Object type
TitleWinter scene with cattle and figures (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Oil painting, 'Winter Scene with Cattle and Figures', George Vicat Cole, 1865
Physical description
Oil painting
  • Estimate height: 32.25in
  • Estimate width: 47.125in
  • Framed height: 95cm
  • Framed width: 130cm
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Marks and inscriptions
'Vicat Cole 1865' (Signed and dated by the artist)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon
Object history
Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon, 1886

Historical significance: George Vicat Cole (1833-93) was born in Portsmouth, the eldest son of the landscape painter George Cole (1810-83). He was taught by his father, who he accompanied on sketching tours in England, Wales and the Moselle. In 1852 the family moved to London. Cole began to exhibit in the mid 185os, initially as 'George Cole, junior' to distinguish his work from his father's. He soon adopted his mother's Huguenot maiden name Vicat, and in subsequent years dropped George altogether, using Vicat as his first name. In 1853, when Cole was twenty, two of his paintings were accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy. Cole spent the years 1857-9 in the village of Albury in Surrey, where he and his wife and children were joined by the landscape painter Benjamin Williams Leader. Cole returned to London, settling in Kensington in 1861 where he remained for the rest of his life, although he travelled annually in search of subject matter. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1870, and a Royal Academician in 1880.

Winter Scene with Cattle and Figures is a good example of Cole's expert handling of atmospheric light effects; the rich glow of the sunset is reflected in the snow and in the blocks of ice floating in the river. The viewer's attention has three main focuses: the setting sun; the two figures who stop for a moment to speak, illuminated by the evening light; and the firelight which glows through the parlour window of the house. The presence of the figures suggests a simple narrative; both are returning home at the end of the day.

Cole was one of the most widely popular artists of the second half of the nineteenth century, and retained his popularity, mainly through the medium of colour reproductions and greetings cards, for much of the 20th century. His work is always rewarding to the eye, if seldom surprising; he knew his market, and was perhaps understandably reluctant to abandon a successful formula.
Subjects depicted
Accession number

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Record createdDecember 15, 1999
Record URL
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